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Plastic bag campaign on track for 5 year target

8th February 2008


Plastic Bag campaign on track to reach its 5 year 20% reduction target

The New Zealand Retailers Association says that the latest plastic bag consumption numbers prove that the supermarkets’ Make a Difference campaign is working. Grocery retailers Progressive Enterprises NZ and Foodstuffs NZ signed the Packaging Accord in 2004 committing to reduce the use of plastic shopping bags by 20% in 5 years.

John Albertson, CEO of the NZ Retailers Association says that 20% target will be reached thanks to the impetus provided by the supermarket’s campaign:-
“When we launched Make a Difference in July 2007 we asked people to take one bag less each time they shop, and New Zealanders have responded. Based on the 1st six months of the campaign, we are now tracking at a phenomenal 115 million fewer plastic bags taken each year which is a 17% reduction in bag use compared with when we started 4 years ago.”

“To put this in perspective, an average household is taking 72 bags a year less than they did then and altogether we are saving over 1200 tonnes of plastic each year which is equivalent to saving 47 gigawatt hours or the annual electricity required by over 2400 homes.”

During the period from July to December 2007, Foodstuffs NZ and Progressive Enterprises NZ report a greater year on year reduction in plastic bag consumption on the back of a huge increase in the purchase of eco bags. 1.2 million eco-bags have been purchased by shoppers during the 6 month campaign to date.

Mr Albertson says he is delighted by the progress and says the campaign continues to gather momentum with both retailers focussing on in store training for staff and ongoing promotion:-

“We based Make a Difference on research conducted by AC Nielson with 1000 shoppers early last year. 3 out of 4 New Zealanders said they did not support a ban but wanted to be reminded to do the right thing by taking fewer bags at the check out.”

Mr Albertson says the reduction numbers show that voluntary targets and campaigns work and that he wants to get more retailers on board.

“I am writing to the CEO’s of the leading 20 retailers in New Zealand to encourage them to join the Make a Difference campaign in 2008. Whilst we tend to associate plastic bags with supermarkets, plastic bags are used as the carrier of choice in most retail outlets and to have a single message delivered wherever we do our shopping is most likely to deliver results. This is one area where retailers can co-operate not compete and we all benefit.”

The Retailers Association is opposed to a ban or mandatory tax on plastic bags.

“Whilst proponents of legislation primarily say that plastic bags are a litter nuisance or environmental hazard, a ban makes no sense. What we need is a holistic approach to tackling litter which is based on encouraging people to take personal responsibility for their waste.”


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